Climate risk management

Managing climate risks is a major challenge of today and for the future. Climate-related disaster risk is increasing. The number of reported hydro-meteorological hazards (droughts, floods, wind storms, forest fires or landslides) has significantly increased in recent decades - from 195 (1987-1998 average) to 365 per year (2000-2006 average)1. In 20072, some 45 percent of recorded deaths and nearly 70 percent of total economic losses were due to climate-induced disasters.

Extreme climate events regularly affect multiple sectors including agriculture, food security, water resources and health. Climatic variability can trigger crop failures, shortages of water for irrigation, food insecurity and hunger. Impacts of extreme events such as droughts, floods and cyclones frequently accumulate into set backs of development gains and towards achieving the MDGs related to poverty, hunger and human health.

The emerging patterns of climatic hazard risk are presumably associated with climate change. It is expected, that global warming will enhance the hydrologic cycle, widen climatic ranges and lead to heavier rainfall events and more severe droughts. Increasing intensity of tropical cyclones as observed in recent decades may be linked to increasing sea surface temperatures. Further enchroachment of hazard prone areas is likely to enhance exposure of people, mainly the poor, and their economic assets to climate-related losses unless their vulnerabilities will be addressed and reduced.

Climate Risk Management - An Integrated Approach

FAO’s integrated approach for Climate Risk Management (CRM) addresses vulnerabilitities to short-term climate variability and longer-term climate change in the context of sustainable development. It promotes proactive, demand driven interventions to achieve positive outcomes for communities and societies in climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, water resources, environment, and ultimately food security. At implementation level, the approach combines the promotion of current disaster risk management (DRM) with capacity building (both techncial and institutional) for medium to long-term climate adaptation, thus integrating four major aspects:

  • strengthening capacitites at different levels to interpret and communicate relevant climate information, and advise local communities how to prepare for risks and capitalise on opportunties;
  • enhancing institutional and technical capacities of government institutions, civil society organisations and communities for localised risk and vulnerability assessments, and the formulaton of climate sensitive development plans and policies;
  • promoting the development of practical adaptation options and demonstration of location-specific investments to foster development in the face of present climate variability and future climate change risks, and
  • promoting knowledge sharing and learning about climate change through awareness raising activities, gender sensitive risk management and policy making

A key component of integrated Climate Risk Management in agriculture is the provision of usable weather and climate information products that help the farmers, livestock herders and fisher to proactively manage their risks and improve opportunities at local level. The ultimate objective of CRM is to enhance the resilience of rural livelihoods against climate change, and to better inform climate sensitive planning and decision making.

FAO's Contribution: the value added

Both current and future climate risks are of greatest concern to farmers as well as to policy-makers as they plan to meet development needs. The anticipatory approaches for managing current climate risks at national and local levels can equip decision-makers and communities to better understand and manage risks posed by climate change. Measures to reduce vulnerabilities and capacity-building to increase resilience are good investments, irrespective of any change that may happen now or later. Provision of appropriate forecast products with relevant impact outlooks, better informed policiy guidance and locally adapted management alternatives which match the farmer’s needs will help to reduce the negative impacts of climate change significantly. 



E-learning tool: Planning for Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change 1 October 2010 This e-learning tool is intended to assist development partners, agricultural extension staff, community based organizations and field practitioners, who face the challenge of initiating and facilitating adaptation processes at community level. The tool provides basic knowledge and guidance for local planning of climate change adaptation with a special emphasis on agriculture. The tool is composed of four modules: (1) Climate Change, (2) Climate change and Food security, (3) Preparing for Community Based Adaptation and (4) Implementing Community Based Adaptation. [more]
Anna Schulze. 2009. Land Legislation and the Possibilities for Pastoral Risk Management and Adaptation to Climate Change – The Example of Mongolia 12 January 2010 This paper addresses the impacts of climate change in Mongolia asking what legal instruments can help to assure the adaptation of pastoralism - being the predominanteconomic activity and mode of life of the rural population - to the changing conditions. Leading to more frequent disasters, climate change makes pastoral adaptation necessary anddisaster risk management a primary need. [more]
FAO. 2008. Climate change and disaster risk management. High Level Conference on World Food Security - Background Paper 12 January 2010 Climate variability will result in more frequent and intensive disasters – with the most severe consequences on the food security and livelihoods of agriculture-dependent populations in vulnerable countries. Decision-makers in programming development and humanitarian response need to provide assistance at the global, regional and national levels that is designed to improve preparedness and early warning systems, and strengthen the resilience of populations mostvulnerable to disasters. [more]
FAO. 2008. Community Based adaptation in Action, A Case Study from Bangladesh, Project Summary Report (Phase I), Improved Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change for Sustainable Livelihood in the Agricultural Sector 12 January 2010 Bangladesh is particularly prone to natural disasters due to its geophysical position and socio-economic context. The territory expands through the delta, where the rivers Ganges,Brahmaputra, Meghna and their tributaries meet and drain into the Bay of Bengal. This wet environment has created arable land, conducive for agriculture. Its economy is highlyagricultural, with 63 percent of its labor force in the agriculture sector. Agriculture is the single most important and the largest sector of Bangladesh’s economy, accounting for about 35 percent of the GDP. [more]

last updated:  Wednesday, December 5, 2012